Published Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

A full catalogue (including price list) for the Woven Paths exhibition (12th June – 7th July) at Milford Galleries, Queenstown is now available.

Visit the Milford website to view the catalogue online.

Artist’s statement –

‘Stories we tell ourselves’*.  We all do this to justify and locate ourselves in our chosen environments. My story is of moving to New Zealand from London with an Auckland lass. We travelled throughout NZ, living alternately in Australia and back in the UK, before eventually settling here.

It took me a while but I began to find my place. Painting was the crucial thread on this path. I’ve always responded to my environment through drawing, photographing, painting, patterns, forms and colours as a way of making sense of and locating myself. I’ve also had a natural bent towards complex organic patterns which is why I first started to pick up on the dramatic forms of New Zealand’s native flora – the Koru, Nikau flowers, Flax leaves and flower pods. It was the beginning of a visual journey that has developed over the last 10 years.

In my own mind the forms have taken on their own meaning. For example in ‘Woven Paths’ the leaves are representative of the looping crossing complexities of our personal lives. As the title suggests, the flower pods of ‘On the whole the crowd regained a sense of balance’ call to mind a jostling crowd. ‘Bridget knew it was there but she couldn’t quite place it’ is a reference to the commercialisation of environmentalism – a barcode composition, referencing the ‘green’ dollar. ‘Bridget’ is named after the British Op Art artist Bridget Riley.

Remember I spend a lot of time painting these works. I feel I have acquired a connection with flax as a subject. I find its cultural significance interesting; the fact that it is the base material for many arts and crafts, and until recently an important export commodity. It has mana.

Aside from that my approach examines how composition, form, colour and the magic of marks affect our rational/emotional connection to paintings. So each work has it’s own bias within a range of developing themes. A central theme is the relationship between photography and painting. My present work was originally born from my photographic interest in organic patterns and has since become an exploration of the possible overlap with painting. I find it interesting how they inform each other. I am thinking of mark making when I take photographs. When painting I like to play around with depth of field and use it as a departure from more representative elements. I’m persistently striving for a perfect economy of mark, to get looseness without losing a photo realistic image from a distance. It’s an oscillation that creates visual drama in the work.

I constantly work from dark layers to white and back to dark in increasingly smaller areas. I build in colour between these layers to generate an inner glow. I am, as most painters seem to be, completely obsessed with the qualities of paint and paintings (of any kind).

Neal Palmer 2010

* Title of Richard Killeen’s retrospective, 1999 Auckland

Leave a Reply